Eastern Kentucky University has long been ranked as a great school for military veterans, and this year is no different. The “Military Times: Best for Vets” 2020 rankings once again placed EKU in the top 10 percent of public universities in the nation and number one in Kentucky as the University prepares to offer new services and grants for its military and veteran students.
“One of the main reasons we maintain the number one ranking in Kentucky and the top 15 nationally is the support of our leadership, providing the resources necessary for our students to succeed,” said Barbara Kent, EKU’s Director of Military Affairs and a veteran herself. “We promote people, places and, most importantly, our programs. We have a commitment to our veteran students. We provide services to ensure that they achieve their academic goals.”
Universities across the United States were invited to complete a survey evaluating their involvement with current and former military members and their families. Schools were assessed on five major categories: student support, university culture, academic policies, cost and financial aid, and academic outcomes/quality.
EKU provides a number of support services to veterans and military students, including:
- No admission fee for undergraduate veterans, active-duty service members or military dependents
- Reduced active-duty rate of $250 per credit hour for undergraduate students and $325 for graduate students
- Maximum credit hours for military experience
- Priority registration and book vouchers upon request
- Veteran cohort classes
- Dedicated space that includes a computer lab, hospitality station and access to EKU Office of Military and Veterans Affairs staff and services
- Access to dedicated veteran and active duty supplemental academic advisor
- Access to certifying officials to ensure federal entitlement is received ASAP
- Access to resident "Vet Success on Campus" VA counselor
- Veteran and military-specific scholarship opportunities
- Military-helpful withdrawal and readmission policy
- Active EKU VETS Club and SALUTE National Honor Society Chapter
To better serve veteran and military students, EKU will be moving the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs to a centralized location in January 2020. This space has more than 3,000 square feet dedicated to serving military students.
“Commensurate with our top ranking in Kentucky and nationally, the allocation of this new space demonstrates that veteran students at EKU are important and are supported by the leadership,” said Kent. “We’re going to see a lot more engagement and collaboration with student life. When veteran students and the general population of students work and share experiences together, that will bring us together as a campus community even more.”
EKU has also been awarded a grant by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs that establishes a veteran student emergency trust fund. This fund awards micro-grants of up to $500 for students who are experiencing financial emergencies due to a delay of benefits. No other school in Kentucky has such a program.
Kent’s long-term plan is to establish a fund that people can donate to, expanding grants to other segments of the military population at EKU.
“We are the pioneers for this,” she said.
Kent and her department are optimistic about improving not only EKU’s environment for veterans, but other schools as well.
“EKU is committed to continuing to be the state and one of the nation’s leaders in terms of education of veteran students, and hopefully be a role model for other universities,” said Kent.
For more information about military and veteran services at EKU, visit www.va.eku.edu.